The dominance of legislatures and statutory law has put an impossible burden on the courts. Guido Calabresi thinks it is time for this country seriously to consider returning to a traditional American judicial-legislative balance in which courts would enlarge the common law and would also decide when a rule of law has seen its day and should be revised.
Table of Contents:
1. Choking on Statutes 2. The Flight to the Constitution and to Equal Protection Clauses 3. The Passive Virtues 4. Interpretation 5. The New Deal Response: Administrative Agencies 6. Legislative Responses 7. Structural Responses 8. A New Approach: Antecedents and Roots 9. The Doctrine: A Question of Legitimacy 10. The Doctrine: Limits and Guidelines 11. The Doctrine: Techniques and Feasibility 12. The Role of Courts in an Age of Statutes 13. The Dangers of the Doctrine 14. The Uses and Abuses of Subterfuge 15. The Choice for Candor
Reviews of this book: Calabresi has brought his ample juristic talents to bear on a foundational problem of the legal and democratic process...in its quality, timeliness and provocativeness [this book] is likely to stand alongside the seminal works of Ronald Dworkin and Grant Gilmore. --Columbia Law Review
Pulling the rug out from debates about interpretation, The Language of Statutes joins together learning from law, linguistics, and cognitive science to illuminate the fundamental issues and problems in this highly contested area. Here, Lawrence M. Solan argues that statutory interpretation is alive, well, and not in need of the major overhaul that many have suggested. Rather, he suggests, the majority of people understand their rights and obligations most of the time, with difficult cases occurring in circumstances that we can predict from understanding when our minds do not work in a lawlike way.
Solan explains that these cases arise because of the gap between our inability to write crisp yet flexible laws on one hand and the ways in which our cognitive and linguistic faculties are structured on the other. Making our lives easier and more efficient, we’re predisposed to absorb new situations into categories we have previously formed—but in the legislative and judicial realms this can present major difficulties. Solan provides an excellent introduction to statutory interpretation, rejecting the extreme arguments that judges have either too much or too little leeway, and explaining how and why a certain number of interpretive problems are simply inevitable.
Lawsuits are rare events in most people's lives. High-stakes cases are even less commonplace. Why is it, then, that scholarship about the Japanese legal system has focused almost exclusively on epic court battles, large-scale social issues, and corporate governance? Mark D. West's Law in Everyday Japan fills a void in our understanding of the relationship between law and social life in Japan by shifting the focus to cases more representative of everyday Japanese life.
Compiling case studies based on seven fascinating themes—karaoke-based noise complaints, sumo wrestling, love hotels, post-Kobe earthquake condominium reconstruction, lost-and-found outcomes, working hours, and debt-induced suicide—Law in Everyday Japan offers a vibrant portrait of the way law intermingles with social norms, historically ingrained ideas, and cultural mores in Japan. Each example is informed by extensive fieldwork. West interviews all of the participants-from judges and lawyers to defendants, plaintiffs, and their families-to uncover an everyday Japan where law matters, albeit in very surprising ways.
Victoria Nourse argues that lawyers must be educated on the basic procedures that define how Congress operates today. Lawmaking creates winners and losers. If lawyers and judges do not understand this, they may embrace the meanings of those who opposed legislation, turning legislative losers into judicial winners and standing democracy on its head.
How do judges determine the meaning of laws? The extent to which judges should exercise their discretion in interpreting legislation has been a contentious issue throughout American history, involving questions about the balance of power between the legislature and the judiciary. In Statutes in Court William D. Popkin provides an indispensable survey of the history of American statutory interpretation and then offers his own theory of “ordinary judging” that defines the proper scope of judicial discretion. Popkin begins by discussing the British origins of statutory interpretation in this country. He then maps the evolving conceptions of the judicial role in the United States from Revolutionary times through the twentieth century before presenting his “ordinary judging” theory—one that asks the judge to use modest judicial discretion to assist the legislature in implementing good government. Claiming that theory cannot account for everything a judge does when determining statutory meaning or writing an opinion, Popkin shows how judges who strive to be conscientious in interpreting the law are often hampered by the lack of both a framework in which to fit their approach and a well-understood common vocabulary to explain what they do. Statutes in Court fills that gap. This work will be valuable to anyone concerned about the judicial role in the interpretation of laws—from judiciary officials and law professors to legal historians and political scientists.